Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says Alexandra is a true reflection of what black people are subjected to all over the country and that the governing party has done nothing to improve the lives of the people in the township.
“If you want to know what the ANC has done, come to Alex. They’ve done nothing. That’s why you’ll find nothing in Alex,” Malema said.
Malema was speaking at the EFF’s May Day rally at Sankopano stadium in Alexandra in commemoration of Worker’s Day, a week before the national elections on May 8.
Supporters, decked in their signature red regalia, came out in their masses to hear Malema’s address.
Malema spoke at length about the failed Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP) which had an allocated budget of R1.6-billion and recently come under the spotlight.
The project is under scrutiny following the #AlexTotalShutdown protests in March and April where residents protested against the poor service delivery in the township and issues surrounding provision of housing.
The renewal project was launched by the government in 2001 with the aim of changing infrastructure, the economy and the social environment of the township. The stakeholders involved included local, provincial and national government as well as the private sector, non-governmental organisations and community-based groups. According to residents, what the project has achieved since its inception is yet to be seen.
Mandisa Themane (46) says she has no idea what the project was meant to do because she hasn’t seen anything.
“I’ve heard about the project but I don’t know what it’s about because I haven’t seen any improvements or changes in the area and I’ve lived here since 1992.”
Thulani Mgabadeli (67) says the project is an ANC project which is why it failed.
“Nothing that the ANC comes right. They also pour the money meant for the people into their own pockets. That’s why I’m voting EFF next week. I want change,” Mgabadeli said.
The City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng provincial government have both announced investigations into the renewal project.
Gauteng premier David Makhura has denied that the project was funded by national government.
“I want to dismiss any notion that [the] national government put billions of rands into the Alexandra Renewal Project. The Alexandra Renewal Project was funded by the City of Johannesburg and the provincial government.
“The provincial government will be able to demonstrate every budget that we put on the ARP and what we did in this area. We built schools, clinics, and houses, and we will be able to demonstrate that,” Makhura said when he went to Alex to address residents during the protests.
“The city should demonstrate how much money they put in the Alex renewal project; it must be accounted for,” said Makhura.
Makhura proceeded to announce a probe by the auditor general into the project.
City of Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba released a statement countering Makhura’s assertion that the renewal project was the responsibility of the City of Johannesburg.
“There can be no question that the R1.6-billion set aside by the national and provincial government for the Alexandra Renewal Project has been looted and used by the ANC as a tool for self-enrichment. This is precisely why the ANC, Premier [David] Makhura and President [Cyril] Ramaphosa are so desperate to place the grievances of the people of Alexandra at the door of the City of Johannesburg,” Mashaba said.
During the rally, Malema also touched on the topics of land expropriation without compensation, job creation and social grants before leaving for his next rally in Bushbuckridge.